The term is used first in the NT by Jesus, but evidently was a name applied to Jesus by the Jewish leaders (
In another context, Jesus is accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul (
Matthew identifies the accusers as Pharisees (
In the same context Jesus answers His accusers by showing the inconsistency of what they say (
Then Jesus showed them the seriousness of the charge that they had made against Him. To credit to the devil what God has done, is blasphemy and gives evidence of a reprobate mind, as Jesus concludes (
Two problems remain unanswered in respect to the use of the name “Beelzebul” by the accusers of Jesus.
1. Is the name to be derived from the Heb. name in the OT, Baalzebub? If so, then do Jesus’ accusers simply identify Him as under the control of the ancient pagan god who was known by Israel as “the Lord of flies”? Or is the name to be derived from the rabbinic term “Zebul” from זָבַל, H2290, meaning “dung” or “manure”? If so, then is one to assume that Jesus’ accusers were degrading Him by this vile accusation rather than actually identifying Him with some personal demon? Or, as some think, was the name derived from the rabbinic term Zebul (זְבוּל) meaning “temple.” If so, then perhaps a play on words was intended. He called Himself “Lord of the Zebul” (temple) but they called Him “Lord of the manure pile.”
The latter of these alternatives is prob. to be preferred.
2. The second problem is more briefly stated, but equally elusive. Did the term refer to the prince of demons and become synonymous with Satan as would appear in
Probably the answer to the second lies in the answer to the first. If the term was occasioned only by a play on words, then the identity of the personality is unimportant. If it was a term used in reference to a specific demon or prince of demons, his identity is of considerable import to us.
T. Meek, Hebrew Origins (1936), 135ff, 138ff; J. Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past (1946), 148; W. Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity (1957), 231-233, 285-287, 298ff, 307-310; Wright and Fuller, The Book of The Acts of God (1957), 274; C. Pfeiffer, Patriarchal Age (1961), 44ff; C. Pfeiffer,and The BIBLE (1962), 30; F. Bruce, Israel and The Nations (1963), 44ff.